Robin Cho is the Head of Impact at Who Gives A Crap where she works alongside charity partners on their WASH initiatives.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
Believe it or not, I started out in banking! However, I think I knew from my very first day that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector — so I did a hard left turn and since then have spent almost 15 years working in different positions across the sector, mainly focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
In my current role as Head of Impact at Who Gives A Crap, I oversee the 50% of profits that are donated to WASH initiatives to help us reach our ultimate goal: making sure every person has access to clean water and sanitation.
A big part of my role is identifying the partners and opportunities for us to support with our unrestricted funding, and helping our team and customers connect to all the good that they are doing. At Who Gives A Crap, we focus on unrestricted funding only, which is most impactful, but unfortunately still a less common way of donating.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
A typical workday involves talking to our WASH partners and other WASH funders, collaborating with internal teams on different projects and initiatives, catching up on the latest news in the philanthropy and WASH space, and focusing on how we can maximise our impact as a business and foundation.
No matter what my day looks like, I start and end each day with a walk. It helps my body wake up and get ready for the day as well as letting it know when the day is over and it is time to wind down.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
For me, work-life balance is not about attaining a perfect split between the two because that is a myth! It is about living your life according to your values and how quickly you can course correct once you have stepped outside of that (because you will, we’re human!).
One of my most important values is ‘people over work’. In my personal life, this shows up as saying ‘yes’ to my loved ones, rather than consistently prioritising work. In my professional life, this means never making the work more important than the person.
I do this by simply asking myself “what will matter in 30 years?” as it helps me prioritise the important versus the urgent. Luckily, Who Gives A Crap shares the same values and puts people first — from employees and donation partners to customers and the wider community.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
Since I work from home, I need to make a conscious effort to separate my work from my personal life. That’s partially why I go on a walk to start and end the day and when I close my laptop, I’m done for the day.
I purposely don’t have any work apps on my phone such as Slack or email, so that I can really switch off and decompress once I log off, rather than having the temptation to check in 24/7. This has been completely transformational and I’ve been encouraging my team and colleagues to do the same!
If for some reason, I need to have these apps handy on my phone — like when I travel internationally for work — I silence my notifications so that I am able to be present in whatever task or meeting requires it at the time.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
I love Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great book stuffed with amazing gems that have helped me build healthier habits (both personally and professionally). A bit of sage advice from the book that I love — “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Something practical that has proven true time and time again is that a good night’s sleep can solve most problems.
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